Monday, January 09, 2006

Representative of ... whoever wrote the biggest check

Change Is Coming: The Question Is Just How Much

...One of Washington's best-regarded lobbyists, Robert E. Juliano, has been talking up public financing of elections as a way to remove the taint that money in politics has brought. In my view that's a noble but impractical idea. Taxpayers won't long tolerate paying for politicians' campaigns with their hard-earned dollars.

Why wouldn't they? A small tax on every citizen, a shared burden. And a much more direct stake in the person that is representing them in Congress.

Suppose I live in Springfield. Suppose also that, miracle of miracles, the U.S. Congressional district which encompasses Springfield matches the geographic borders of Springfield.

So, Springfield now needs to elect itself a Congressperson. The current system has the interested parties, Quimby and Wiggum for example, spending lots of their time getting people to give them money. They spend the money on their campaigns, most significantly on advertising. Who benefits from this? The donors, because the candidates are beholden to them, and the media companies, who get the advertising dollars.

That's a pretty small group of people being directly and actively served.

Under public financing, everyone citizen has to pay a share of the campaign costs. A candidate would be beholden to the citizens. A candidate would spend his or her time engaging as many citizens as possible. Basically, it would be a long job interview process, as opposed to a fund-raising and media offensive process, which does nothing but distance the candidates from the citizens.

Or perhaps we plebes should just be grateful and subservient to our financial betters. Perhaps I should just recognize that my check is not large enough to actually give me a voice, and be thankful that I am still allowed to pull the lever in the voting booth every now and again. Oh dear, I realize now that I may have spoken out of turn. A thousand to do my penance now.


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